July 29 – Happy Birthday Gary Thomasson
My cousin Bob from Syracuse was in town on one Memorial Day weekend during the mid seventies. He was my direct link to the Yankees’ International League farm team that was located in Syracuse during the 1970′s, called the Chiefs. He knew I was a huge Yankee fan so when he saw me that day he told me the Yankees had a new “Mickey” coming up who can hit home runs and play shortstop. When I asked him what the guys name was he said Mickey Klutz. I probably started laughing thinking my cousin was joking with me. He finally convinced me he wasn’t so the next time I went to purchase my copy of the Sunday Times I also picked up the Sporting News so I could check the Chiefs player stats myself and sure enough, I found the name Mickey Klutts listed and he did play shortstop and was leading that Chiefs’ team in home runs. A few weeks later I got to see the Yankees “new Mickey” when he was called to to the parent club for a mid-season look see. He was quickly sent back down but for the next couple of years I kept my eye on him, hoping against hope that the next Yankee Messiah was about to emerge.
In the mean time, the Yankees were doing just fine on the field playing another “Mickey” named Rivers. They won the 1976 AL Pennant and the ’77 World Series. Management wise though, the organization was a mess. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner were at each others throats and you never knew what the back page headline of the Daily News would be on any given day. The Boss or Martin for that matter were never fans of Yankee left-fielder Roy White and were always trying to replace him with an outfielder with more pop in his bat. In June of ’78 the Yankees got Gary Thomasson from the A’s in a trade that sent Klutts to Oakland. I was not happy because I had always liked White and was ready to become a huge Mickey Klutts fan.
As it turned out, the Yankees were right about Klutts and wrong about Thomasson, who is today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant. Martin and then his replacement, Bob Lemon gave their new outfielder the left field spot and he did OK, hitting .276 for the rest of that season, but his 3 home runs and 20 RBI’s impressed no one. The following February, the Yankees traded him to the Dodgers for catcher Brad Gulden. Klutts ended up spending four seasons with Oakland as a utility infielder and was out of the big leagues for good after the 1983 season.
This Glens Falls, NY-born former Yankee pitcher was also born on July 29.